First Person: How Perfectionism Can Lead to Small Business Management Mistakes

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A lifetime of being a perfectionist as well as a 30 plus year career gave me lots of opportunity to learn the management mistakes that perfectionism trap you into. During my career I've held various management positions including vice president of sales and marketing for a small business followed by six years as owner of a small business and over five years as a small business consultant.

Perfectionism can be subtle yet often destructive to your small business management ability. It really impacts employee morale. For instance, look at the following five traps:

5 Perfectionism Traps That Hurt Your Management Abilities

- Giving compliments followed by "but"

- Judging everyone on matching your techniques

- Trying to multi-task when talking with an employee - focus on her

- Proving you are superior at their tasks - you are now in management; you need to evaluate yourself based on how well you inspire your team to excel with your guidance

- Micro managing - not only is it demoralizing for your staff; it distracts you from doing only those things that you as the boss can do.

Giving Compliments Followed by "But"

This is one of the hardest things for me to remember, even though I recognize that it's destructive. When you give a sincere compliment, you cause people to feel good about your recognition of their efforts. Unfortunately, perfectionists have a hard time not throwing in the "but, it could have been better if you had ..."

Judging Everyone on Matching Your Techniques

With years of experience, you will typically do things better than your employees. However, just because your technique works well for you, your employees could sometimes find superior techniques that work better for them. Evaluate only the results not the technique.

Trying To Multitask When Talking With an Employee

Focus on him or her. People can tell if your mind is elsewhere. The responses you give will tip them off. Furthermore, you typically will fail to have meaningful questions needed to better understand. Everyone wants and deserves respect. That means you give your undivided attention when talking with an employee.

This takes self-discipline. I love to think I can multi-task too. I learned through experience as well as from other managers' experiences that people are more effective and efficient when focused on the task at hand.

You may find it helpful to ask your employee to wait a minute while you make some notes to hold your current thoughts so you can return to them afterwards. That way you can focus on your employee's concerns without worrying about what you aren't getting done.

Some highly successful people schedule time for employees to bring their concerns. Unless it's an emergency they allow no interruptions to their work schedule outside those times.

Proving You Are Superior at Their Tasks

As you are now in management, you need to evaluate yourself based on how well you inspire your team to excel with your guidance rather than compete with them. I had a couple clients who were vastly superior sales people to anyone on their sales team. Moreover, they loved selling.

My advice was to hire someone who has strong management skills. Supervise him or her and use a KPI (key performance indicator) report to stay on top of the business issues. Otherwise, stick to what they enjoyed doing and excelled at.

Micro Managing

Not only is having the boss micro manage demoralizing for your staff, it distracts you from doing those things that only you as the boss can do. Train them to do the job then monitor their work as necessary. Admittedly until they get experience and guidance to improve, you can do better than them. However, you limit yourself and undermine their growth.

While it has its good points of motivating you to achieve excellence, avoid letting perfectionism trap you into making the above five mistakes in your small business management. Learn to take pride in the successes of your staff. You'll have happier and more productive employees while having less stress because you can delegate some of your workload.

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